Entrepreneurs Forever 2015 | Version française

Karen Vernet

Markets Manager for Le Printemps group

She gives vision and ambition to brands and teams.

Over twenty years, Karen Vernet has changed companies, market, and job, and progressively her marketing know-how has moved towards that of managing profit centres. But with each experience, her desire to convince through effective leadership and results has always remained unchanged. « I often refer to the 5 Principles, - heart, head, daring, luck, courage – which form the basis of any turnaround. They must be present in the vision, perfect implementation, and sincerity which we always owe our teams. »

She was one of the first students to organise her programme "à la carte", and spent a year away in the Hair-styling division of l’Oréal. She never dreamed of cutting the two month product training course, nor did she move a hair when asked to do an immersion as a replacement Sales Rep covering the whole of France. « You are all alone in your car, doing your round, with your daily sales target. Every day is exhausting, but what an experience! » She finished her internship by styling a new bespoke service for hairdressers.

As a young graduate, she had a taste of the food processing business within the Danone group. She feasted on innovation, more specifically for Marie fresh products, before whipping up exercising the 4P for Amora Maille « with the most amazing budgets! »

Freedom give the power of making real choices, changing sectors, to launch into unknown adventures, designing and sharing a vision of rupture in difficult situations. With each new challenge I think of a piece of advice I learned as a girl: "advance without fear".

When Danone reorganised, the activity was sold, and the "Queen of mayonnaise" got cooking on dietary products, as Group Leader for Distriborg, owner of the brands Bjorg and Gayelord Hauser. Change of regime in this visionary SME, rich in autonomy and, at the time, poor in processes. She revitalised the Gayelord Hauser brand in France, then nourished European strategic thinking for the Dietary and Food Supplement category. Appointed Key Account Manager, she then digested negotiation techniques, and the strategic approach to customer portfolio building. « Marketers have a tendency to think that their products are the best in the world, but distributors talk in terms of margin per m²! »

In 2006, Marrazzi, world leader in ceramics, was recruiting, for its French subsidiary, a Marketing manager capable of building a luxury brand to restore its profitability. « I changed from a High Potential manager in the food business to the loneliness of an office and a blank sheet of paper in the local start-up of a big group in a sector I knew nothing about: it was a big jump, a terrific risk! »

Passionate about the project, she met professionals from the luxury industries, fell in love at first sight with the products, defied R&D and created the "Démesure" brand from scratch, with the architect Christian Biecher.

A new season began for Karen Vernet in 2009, when le Printemps called her to renovate its Homes/Design department. She reintroduced Fashion into the department through the Luxury and Furniture/Lighting activities, and successfully launched an own-brand for home linens. « The department was underrated, the team needed re-boosting, and the vision redefined. Our success drew attention within the company. »

She also said yes to Weddings, and created an exclusive wedding dress collection signed by Maria Luisa (Fashion Editor of Printemps). She took on board the Travel sector, which she oriented towards bespoke trips and emotion. At the beginning of 2014, she took on Men’s Fashion and prepared the Printemps of the Man of the Future… And finally, she was entrusted with the renewal of the group’s own brands for all markets... And what about tomorrow?!... « That’s the beauty of Retail, making every new day exemplify human prowess. »

EM Lyon: Programme Grande Ecole 1995 / MSc in Management
Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC
Date de parution : 01/06/15